It's definitely a Man's Life in the courier business. In 18th century France you were still known as a courier, travelled by stage coach and ferried your cargo - bearer bonds, legal documents, even cash - in a briefcase or strongbox and robbery and occasional death were occupational hazards. Today you're known as a mule, travel by jet and carry your cargo - cocaine or better - on or more often INSIDE your person and twenty years in a Third World slammer or increasingly eternity on a slab should the packaging burst in your stomach are the new occupational hazards.
This movie is based on a real case in which an innocent man who had the bad fortune to resemble a criminal paid with his life. Pierre Blanchar plays both a thief/murderer - the driver of the stage coach in which the courier was travelling was killed during the robbery - Andre Dubosc and the innocent look-alike Joseph Lesurques who has the good fortune to be married to Dita Parlo, one of the shining lights of 30s cinema who was unforgettable in Renoir's La Grande Illusion. This was Claude Autant-Lara in his social-conscience phase and after a slow, measured start he hits his stride in the wake of the robbery exploring mob psychology and revelling in the irony of a blind man being a key witness that sent an innocent man to the guillotine, we are all murderers indeed. Hitchcock explored similar territory in The Wrong Man in which Henry Fonda was subjected to a lot of discomfort and his wife, Vera Miles even more but in the end the truth emerged in plenty of time for Fonda to walk free, not so, alas, here. Not perhaps an ideal subject for a world on the brink of war but a fine film nevertheless.
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